Outlandish Wants: My Friends Onkyo and Dyson

My latest Outlandish Wants are kind of lame.  I mean, I started big.  I started with a Tesla Model S, a product that represents the newest technology available, and costs a LOT of money.  Heck, the product isn’t even released yet.  If I had as much money as Elon Musk, I still couldn’t get a Model S.

As you can tell by this post, my outlandish wants have gotten a lot more tame and (shiver) domestic.

I’m going to start with my friend, the Onkyo TX-508.

This is one of Onkyo’s newest home theater audio and video receivers.

What is a receiver?  Put simply, it’s the part of the home theater that is responsible for processing the sound, but in recent years it’s also started processing the video signals as well.  Receivers have gotten very complex, especially with all of the surround sound capabilities and video technologies that are out in the marketplace.  My current Onkyo reciever is great; I got it refurbished for a really good price, it puts out nice sound, and has a lot of power.  Sadly, it doesn’t process video.  The end result and annoyance of this is that you have to use 3 different remotes to change devices on our home theater.  That’s a lot of buttons.  My wife still refuses to learn how to do it.

So… I’d like to consolidate some of the functions of those remotes, and getting this receiver will make switching between TV, Movies, PS3 (not mine, my brother’s) and other devices very easy, effectively eliminating one of the remotes to our system.

It’s not the flashiest new model.  It’s not top of the line (Tio), but it does everything I need it to do.

MSRP: $399.  Amazon.com: $269.73.  (I only need to scrounge $200 more into the TSF (technology slush fund) before I can justify this one.)

Item #2 is pretty embarrassing, but here goes…

I want a Dyson Vacuum.  These puppies suck!

See, at the WhiteEyebrows household, my wife typically makes me choose between cleaning the shower or cleaning the toilets.  I choose toilets.  She also makes me choose between vacuuming and mopping.  I choose vacuuming.

In my vacuuming escapades, my dissatisfaction has been growing with my Bissel Whirlwind vacuum.  On an empty canister with a relatively clean filter, it loses suction after about 1 full room.  It’s very annoying.  Cleaning the filter and emptying the bin usually makes me sneeze and spill dust right back onto the floor or into the air.  I need a better solution.

I give you, the Dyson DC25.

It’s a high capacity vacuum.  It never loses suction, has no filters that require cleaning, and has a canister that is easily emptied.  Everyone I know who has a Dyson loves their Dyson, but for $500 they’d better love their Dyson!!  I could spend less for a fully functioning computer or airfare to an exotic island (two things I value a lot more than completely clean carpet).

But my dissatisfaction with Mr Bissell has brought me to the brink of purchasing this radically overpriced sucker!  The Bissell has lasted me 5 years.  I’m sure I could find a new home for my old, semi-working Bissell.  What is a man with expensive tastes to do?

MSRP: $599  BestBuy.com (Refurbished): $357.05.

Truth be told, Mrs Brows has already approved the purchase of the Dyson – I just can’t yet bring myself to pull the trigger.

Convince me, please.

Outlandish Want: The New Mac Mini

How could I not want one of these!?!?!??!

It’s a NEW, incredibly redesigned Mac Mini!

They’ve created a unibody enclosure, and reconfigured the ports on the back!

They are clearly shifting the focus of this small device to the people (like me) who use it as a home theater PC (HTPC).  They’ve incorporated a HDMI port (with audio!) on the back!

I currently use an old Power Mac which is hooked to my projector and entertainment system.  This Mac runs EyeTV, which recieves the over the air, high definition TV – all the TV I need.  No cable.  No monthly bill!  Woo hoo!

I remember when I first built the system, I did the calculation that I could only justify spending the hundreds of dollars for the parts for the system if I kept it for 3 years.  Only after that time would I start to realize the gain from not spending the monthly fee.

Now that I’m in the black from that original investment, I wonder how I’m going to convince myself (and my auditor) that I can make this additional $700 investment???

Weekends are Nice

Weekends are just fantastic.

This weekend, we enjoyed a friday night game night with our friends, the Brauns.  It has been TOO long since we hung out!  The best part of the night was when little Elizabeth came running into my arms and playing on my lap for a few minutes.  Granted, her motivation was to avoid having to go to bed, but still – it was a FIRST!  She is finally warming up to her Uncle Brows.

Saturday was going to be an intense yard day, but it wasn’t to be.  I got up early to attend a baptism, and when Audrey went to go pull the mower out, she saw the TruGreen people pulling away – no mowing for 48 hours!  At least our weeds will die now, and we’ll hopefully have something to mow!

We decided we could still trim the bushes, but when I got my trimmer out I quickly found that all of the batteries were dead.  As dead as dead could be.  I guess winter likes to drain batteries?  Who knew?

So we went to Plan C: clean off the back porch.  We had about 10 pots of various dead vegetation on our back porch that needed to be removed and destroyed.  When we were all done, we were left with a single potted tree.  Kinda sad, but kinda good.

I returned to the inside world where I got laundry and dishes done while Audrey washed her car and soaked up some of the great spring sunshine.  What a beautiful, allergy-filled day it was!

That evening we enjoyed Sherlock Holmes together.  I thought it was a really good movie.  Well played!

Sunday, I barely made it to my 6:30am meeting.  A2 had to re-wake me up at 6 after I had disabled my alarm at 5:30 and fallen back to sleep.  I trudged to church and put in my obligatory 8 hours.

When I finally got home, A2 suggested that we watch Star Wars Episode 3 (the only one she had never seen…) so we did!  It was a miracle that she suggested it.  The only greater miracle would be if she ever asked to watch The Princess Bride.  Somehow I avoided falling asleep during the movie.

We took a nice walk after the movie and enjoyed some of the activity in the neighborhood.  These are some of the few weeks where people here in Texas enjoy being outdoors, unless you’re an allergy sufferer in which case you still have to wait for the fall to truly enjoy nice temperatures.

Nice weather outside always turns my thoughts back to our boring back yard.  On our walk, we talked about what we wanted in our back yard.  We verbally designed a 20 or 30 thousand dollar back yard, and then came back to reality to know that we just needed to do something simple that we could enjoy a few times per year.

Does anyone have any landscape design skillz?  We need help translating our vision to paper!

Back to work today…

Outlandish Want: Retirement by Fifty

I always joke about retiring by age forty.  How nice would it be to not have to formally work at anything for the rest of your life?  Or any of your life, for that matter?

The thing is, I have a bunch of jobs and projects I want to do on my own time.  I have enough to keep me busy for two lifetimes, I think.  It’s too bad that feeding and sheltering myself (and now my family) has to take precedence over doing those various projects.

I could seriously be happy sleeping in until 9 or 10 every day, getting up, enjoying some relaxing music while I cleaned the house, exercised, worked on a few personal or church projects, made a fresh lunch and dinner, and played a game or went on a walk.

I could get used to travelling a few times a year, or even travelling most of the year if I could.  I love seeing new places and getting to know new cultures.

I could spend time volunteering, mentoring, running a side business, mastering a (low impact) sport, learning more musical instruments, or learning how to cook better.  I’m not at a loss for ideas of how to spend my time!  Really, I’m not!

The problem is… all of it takes money, and so I spend most of my life chained to a desk and a computer to work most of my life to support the rest of my life.

Why retire by 50?  Well, as an artist, I enjoy symmetry.  The first 25 years of my life were focused on education, and being the consummate planner that I am, I now plan to spend the next 25 years working, and the following 25 in retirement.  I’m thinking I’ll be gone by 75 or so…

Yeah… I’m the creepy dude planning his own demise.  I ask, why not?

Oh well, back to work…

Outlandish Want: My Own Private Island

After working for weeks on end in a fabric covered container, with no vacation in sight or in recent memory, sometimes you just wish you had your own private island.

Granted, my island would have more sandy beaches than this, but this picture is a start.  I want to open my large sliding doors and windows to open air breezes.  I want to enjoy lazy days on the deck, eating slow roasted BBQ and soaking up the sea breezes.

A man can dream, right?

Outlandish Want: Tesla Model S

I have a few days worth of posts of outlandish stuff that I really want. Today is day #1.

I want a Tesla Model S


This car is the second car from a new technology/car company, Tesla, who is focused solely on developing electric vehicle (EV) technology.  The first Model S is supposed to roll of the line in 2011.

Tesla was the first company to have a real-live electric vehicle on the road with its Roadster.  The Roadster is a Porche competitor in speed, handling, and PRICE, costing upwards of $120,000.  But this price isn’t just buying a car, it’s really investing in a company that is the future of electric vehicles.  Tesla’s business plan was to develop the EV technology from the high-end to the low end, starting with a customized, performance vehicle and using the extra margins to reinvest in the research and development of the technology.

Now, with the Roadster (phase 1) complete and almost 1000 Roasters on the road, Tesla is moving on to Phase 2: the Model S.  It’s been in planning for some time now, but the recession put the brakes on another round of funding that was needed to build out the infrastructure for mass production.  However, a recently secured a Department of Energy loan will now outfit the plant in California where the Model S will be mass produced.

The idea for Model S is that it will be a Lexus/Audi/Infiniti competitor, and will be the first mass produced Tesla.  After government subsidy, it will be about $50,000.

And it will have a range of 300 miles, about the same as a tank of gas and an internal combustion engine.

Tesla’s technology is far superior to anyone else’s, their car’s designs are incredible, and they are pushing the envelope on the car purchasing and maintenance experience.

To prove that their cars are for DRIVING and not just for the showroom, Tesla drove a Roadster from its headquarters in California to the Auto Show in Detroit… and they didn’t even wash it afterwards, proving that this car could go the distance.  All the other manufacturers had their little concept vehicles, but not one of them has a working car on the market like Tesla.

Electric vehicles are a good answer to a lot of current problems with transportation:

  1. An electric car is simple.  An electric car consists of three basic components: batteries, a computer, and a big motor.  The part count in an internal combustion engine pales in comparison.  Imagine having a vehicle without hundreds of fallible, frictioned, moving parts that wear down and fail at the worst possible time.  Granted, even an EV will have maintenance problems, with its complex computer hardware and sensors, but it will be nowhere near the complexity and fallibility of the internal combustion engine.
  2. Offloading the energy fueling our cars to the electric grid makes sense as an alternative to gasoline.  Currently, the energy to drive a Tesla costs about 2 cents per mile driven.  Plus, the electricity can then come from various renewable or non-renewable means: coal, nuclear, wind, solar, etc.  Either way, EV is the most realistic way of significantly reducing our dependence on foreign oil and taking control of our own country’s energy policy.
  3. Zero emissions.  Nuff said.  Cleaner urban air is better for everyone.  (Granted, the emissions for non-renewable fuels go somewhere… but at least it doesn’t get blown in my face from a tailpipe as I walk the streets)

The problem, though, is battery technology.  Currently, the batteries are the single largest weakness of the car.  Significant breakthroughs in this technology must be made to make it commercially viable to give the car a long enough lifespan to make sense for average consumers.

Here are a few videos to wet your appetite:

Finally, Tesla Roadster wins a drag race between four performance cars: